That push began before she even walked onto the set, with Mr. Stewart saying in his intro that Ms. Clinton “is here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for the presidency of the United States ... I think.”
Then after welcoming the ex-secretary of State on-camera and waving a copy of her book “Hard Choices” around while extolling its perceived virtues, Stewart made a hard segue.
“I think I speak for everybody when I say, no one cares,” the comic said, referring to Clinton’s memoir. “They just want to know if you’re going to run for president.”
Clinton laughed. Then she pushed back. “I was going to make an announcement, but you kind of spoiled it for me,” she said.
After that, Stewart whipped out a clipboard and gave the former secretary of State a pretend aptitude test, asking if she prefers commuting to work or a home office (“home” was her answer) and whether she prefers her home office to have a particular shape. (“The world is so complicated, the fewer corners the better,” she said. That’s a coy reference to the Oval Office if you haven’t figured it out.)
Watching this smooth banter from the comfort of the couch, we had a couple of reactions. The first was that Clinton and Stewart had actually practiced all this beforehand. Or, if there wasn’t an actual run-through, Stewart’s camp had provided Clinton’s aides with a general outline of what he was going to say, so she could have snappy rejoinders prepared. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Second, she is running for president. Or, as we’ve said in the past, she is now running in the pre-primary phase of the presidential race, leaving herself the option to stop running in the future before voting starts, if she wishes.
Why? She answers questions like a candidate, that’s why.
Stewart posed an obvious query about her recent wealth gaffes, including her statement that she and hubby Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House. Clinton’s response was textbook: First, make a non-apology apology. (She called the “dead broke” comment “inartful.”) Second, put on a positive spin. (Clinton said she and Bill worked hard for their money and were grateful for the opportunities afforded them in America.) Then, talk policy, preferably with numbers. (Young people today don’t believe they have such opportunity, Clinton said. Six million young people are neither in school or working, a “terrible development,” in Clinton’s words.)
There you have it. She is subtly drawing up a Clinton economic policy in front of the media’s eyes. She’ll use her family’s own position to highlight income inequality in the US, and she’ll talk about climbing the ladder of the American dream, and how that’s hard today for the middle class and the young, and how the government needs to give them a helping hand at key times and so forth.
“That says to me you’re running for president,” said Stewart, as his guest switched into wonk mode.